Labor and delivery is a unique experience. If you are feeling any anxiety about the prospect of giving birth to your baby, a proactive discussion with your physician may help alleviate your concerns. Developing a birth plan that outlines your preferences for labor and delivery may also help reduce your anxiety.
During labor, you will experience a series of continuous, progressive contractions of the uterus, which help the cervix to open (dilate) and thin (efface). Labor can start any time from two weeks before to two weeks after your estimated due date. You may experience some bleeding as the mucus plug that blocks your cervix loosens, or your water may break (the breaking of your amniotic sac). If you are unsure if labor is starting, it is important that you contact your physician.
During a vaginal delivery, you will usually remain in the same room for labor and delivery. Your partner should be actively involved in the process of childbirth by helping with relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.
When your baby’s head becomes visible, your physician will assist your baby’s head, chin, shoulders and body out of your vagina. If the vaginal opening is too small or the baby is in distress, it may be necessary for your physician to perform an episiotomy, or an incision through your vaginal wall and perineum, the area between your thighs that extends from your anus to your vaginal opening. Episiotomies are not needed for every delivery and are not routinely preformed.
After your baby is delivered, your physician will ask you to continue to push until the placenta is delivered.
If you need to have a cesarean section, the procedure will be performed in an operating room or a designated delivery room. Some cesareans are planned, while others may be performed due to complications that occur during labor.
If you require a cesarean section, you will receive anesthesia so you do not feel any pain. An incision will be made in your abdomen and uterus. When your baby is delivered through the opening in the amniotic sac, you will feel some pressure and pulling. After your baby is delivered, your physician will stitch the uterine and abdominal incision.
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